The Count of Monte Cristo – Day 363 of 400

“To Madame la Baronne Danglars.”

“I will place it on her table myself to-night,” he murmured. Then taking a passport from his drawer he said,—“Good, it is available for two months longer.”

Chapter 105. The Cemetery of Pere-la-Chaise.

M. de Boville had indeed met the funeral procession which was taking Valentine to her last home on earth. The weather was dull and stormy, a cold wind shook the few remaining yellow leaves from the boughs of the trees, and scattered them among the crowd which filled the boulevards. M. de Villefort, a true Parisian, considered the cemetery of Pere-la-Chaise alone worthy of receiving the mortal remains of a Parisian family; there alone the corpses belonging to him would be surrounded by worthy associates. He had therefore purchased a vault, which was quickly occupied by members of his family. On the front of the monument was inscribed: “The families of Saint-Meran and Villefort,” for such had been the last wish expressed by poor Renee, Valentine’s mother. The pompous procession therefore wended its way towards Pere-la-Chaise from the Faubourg Saint-Honore. Having crossed Paris, it passed through the Faubourg du Temple, then leaving the exterior boulevards, it reached the cemetery. More than fifty private carriages followed the twenty mourning-coaches, and behind them more than five hundred persons joined in the procession on foot.

These last consisted of all the young people whom Valentine’s death had struck like a thunderbolt, and who, notwithstanding the raw chilliness of the season, could not refrain from paying a last tribute to the memory of the beautiful, chaste, and adorable girl, thus cut off in the flower of her youth. As they left Paris, an equipage with four horses, at full speed, was seen to draw up suddenly; it contained Monte Cristo. The count left the carriage and mingled in the crowd who followed on foot. Chateau-Renaud perceived him and immediately alighting from his coupe, joined him.

The count looked attentively through every opening in the crowd; he was evidently watching for some one, but his search ended in disappointment. “Where is Morrel?” he asked; “do either of these gentlemen know where he is?”

“We have already asked that question,” said Chateau-Renaud, “for none of us has seen him.” The count was silent, but continued to gaze around him. At length they arrived at the cemetery. The piercing eye of Monte Cristo glanced through clusters of bushes and trees, and was soon relieved from all anxiety, for seeing a shadow glide between the yew-trees, Monte Cristo recognized him whom he sought. One funeral is generally very much like another in this magnificent metropolis. Black figures are seen scattered over the long white avenues; the silence of earth and heaven is alone broken by the noise made by the crackling branches of hedges planted around the monuments; then follows the melancholy chant of the priests, mingled now and then with a sob of anguish, escaping from some woman concealed behind a mass of flowers.

The shadow Monte Cristo had noticed passed rapidly behind the tomb of Abelard and Heloise, placed itself close to the heads of the horses belonging to the hearse, and following the undertaker’s men, arrived with them at the spot appointed for the burial. Each person’s attention was occupied. Monte Cristo saw nothing but the shadow, which no one else observed. Twice the count left the ranks to see whether the object of his interest had any concealed weapon beneath his clothes. When the procession stopped, this shadow was recognized as Morrel, who, with his coat buttoned up to his throat, his face livid, and convulsively crushing his hat between his fingers, leaned against a tree, situated on an elevation commanding the mausoleum, so that none of the funeral details could escape his observation. Everything was conducted in the usual manner. A few men, the least impressed of all by the scene, pronounced a discourse, some deploring this premature death, others expatiating on the grief of the father, and one very ingenious person quoting the fact that Valentine had solicited pardon of her father for criminals on whom the arm of justice was ready to fall—until at length they exhausted their stores of metaphor and mournful speeches.

Monte Cristo heard and saw nothing, or rather he only saw Morrel, whose calmness had a frightful effect on those who knew what was passing in his heart. “See,” said Beauchamp, pointing out Morrel to Debray. “What is he doing up there?” And they called Chateau-Renaud’s attention to him.

“How pale he is!” said Chateau-Renaud, shuddering.

“He is cold,” said Debray.

“Not at all,” said Chateau-Renaud, slowly; “I think he is violently agitated. He is very susceptible.”

“Bah,” said Debray; “he scarcely knew Mademoiselle de Villefort; you said so yourself.”

“True. Still I remember he danced three times with her at Madame de Morcerf’s. Do you recollect that ball, count, where you produced such an effect?”

“No, I do not,” replied Monte Cristo, without even knowing of what or to whom he was speaking, so much was he occupied in watching Morrel, who was holding his breath with emotion. “The discourse is over; farewell, gentlemen,” said the count. And he disappeared without anyone seeing whither he went. The funeral being over, the guests returned to Paris. Chateau-Renaud looked for a moment for Morrel; but while they were watching the departure of the count, Morrel had quitted his post, and Chateau-Renaud, failing in his search, joined Debray and Beauchamp.

Monte Cristo concealed himself behind a large tomb and awaited the arrival of Morrel, who by degrees approached the tomb now abandoned by spectators and workmen. Morrel threw a glance around, but before it reached the spot occupied by Monte Cristo the latter had advanced yet nearer, still unperceived. The young man knelt down. The count, with outstretched neck and glaring eyes, stood in an attitude ready to pounce upon Morrel upon the first occasion. Morrel bent his head till it touched the stone, then clutching the grating with both hands, he murmured,—“Oh, Valentine!” The count’s heart was pierced by the utterance of these two words; he stepped forward, and touching the young man’s shoulder, said,—“I was looking for you, my friend.” Monte Cristo expected a burst of passion, but he was deceived, for Morrel turning round, said calmly,—

“You see I was praying.” The scrutinizing glance of the count searched the young man from head to foot. He then seemed more easy.

“Shall I drive you back to Paris?” he asked.

“No, thank you.”

“Do you wish anything?”

“Leave me to pray.” The count withdrew without opposition, but it was only to place himself in a situation where he could watch every movement of Morrel, who at length arose, brushed the dust from his knees, and turned towards Paris, without once looking back. He walked slowly down the Rue de la Roquette. The count, dismissing his carriage, followed him about a hundred paces behind. Maximilian crossed the canal and entered the Rue Meslay by the boulevards. Five minutes after the door had been closed on Morrel’s entrance, it was again opened for the count. Julie was at the entrance of the garden, where she was attentively watching Penelon, who, entering with zeal into his profession of gardener, was very busy grafting some Bengal roses. “Ah, count,” she exclaimed, with the delight manifested by every member of the family whenever he visited the Rue Meslay.

“Maximilian has just returned, has he not, madame?” asked the count.

“Yes, I think I saw him pass; but pray, call Emmanuel.”

“Excuse me, madame, but I must go up to Maximilian’s room this instant,” replied Monte Cristo, “I have something of the greatest importance to tell him.”

“Go, then,” she said with a charming smile, which accompanied him until he had disappeared. Monte Cristo soon ran up the staircase conducting from the ground-floor to Maximilian’s room; when he reached the landing he listened attentively, but all was still. Like many old houses occupied by a single family, the room door was panelled with glass; but it was locked, Maximilian was shut in, and it was impossible to see what was passing in the room, because a red curtain was drawn before the glass. The count’s anxiety was manifested by a bright color which seldom appeared on the face of that imperturbable man.

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. (To tell the truth I don't even really care if you give me your email or not.)